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Microsoft's first PC ever, the Surface tablet is set for launch this Friday, right after Windows 8 is also made available to the public. However until recently a few key aspects of the product remained under wraps, including pricing, which was disclosed last week to start at $499 for a 32GB Surface tablet without any of the keyboard covers -- a major aspect of what makes the Surface an innovative device.
A first round of reviews has hit the web, with mixed reactions on whether the Surface is good enough at this stage to bring true competition to the iPad(s) and Android tablets alike. On the positive side, most reviewers seem to agree the Surface is a solidly engineered piece of hardware, the covers work relatively well, and surprisingly Windows RT is not the resource hog some expected. Office RT is also cited as one of the Surface's highlights, not only because it works well but because it's included in the price of the tablet.
By far the most common complaint came on the software side, due to a lack of quality apps on the Windows Store. This perceived weakness of the WinRT platform is considered a huge dealbreaker considering competing products, especially iOS devices that the Surface seems to be targeting, have a more ample library of applications you can try or buy. It's ironic how this was the exact same reason Windows was used to be favored over Macs a decade ago.
Ultimately, the lack of applications and thus the overall ecosystem was factored in to evaluate the Surface RT's 'value'. At $630+ with either of the keyboard covers, no one considers Surface RT tablets to be cheap but rather a steep entry for a tablet that holds a lot of promise but is not there yet to go against the defacto leader in the tablet market.
What the reviewers said:
Gizmodo: "The Surface, with an obligatory Touch Cover, is $600. That's a lot of money. Especially given that it's no laptop replacement, no matter how it looks or what Microsoft says. It's a tablet-plus, priced right alongside the iPad and in most ways inferior."
Anandtech: "If you're ok being an early adopter, and ok dealing with the fact that mobile devices are still being significantly revved every year, Surface is worth your consideration. If you've wanted a tablet that could begin to bridge the content consumption and productivity divide, Surface is it."
Engadget: "The Microsoft Surface with Windows RT's $499 starting MSRP means those thinking about making the investment here will be carefully cross-shopping against same-priced offerings from Apple, ASUS and others. Where does this one rate? Very well -- but very differently."
LaptopMag: "Ultimately, the Surface will succeed or fail based on the quality of the apps around it. Right now, $599 (the minimum cost with Touch Cover) is a lot to spend on a fledgling ecosystem. However, with the power of Microsoft and Nvidia behind it, we believe we will see more compelling apps for Windows RT arrive within the next few weeks."
The Apple iPad (3rd-gen) includes a Retina Display operating at a resolution of 2,048 x 1,536. Powering the new iPad is a dual-core A5X processor with quad-core graphics, it also gets upgraded optics in the form of a 5MP backside illuminated sensor that features a 5-element lens, IR filter and ISP built into the A5X chip. Apple claims The new iPad is good for 10 hours of battery life and nine hours when using 4G LTE.
The Asus Eee Pad Transformer Infinity TF700 features a 10.1" WUXGA Full HD LED Backlit screen with 10-finger multi-touch and SonicMaster audio technology. The TF700 packs an NVIDIA Tegra 3 Quad-core processor with Android 4.0 (ICS). It also sports a rear 8MP camera w/LED Flash and a front 2MP for video conferencing, a Micro-D HDMI port and a Micro SD card slot.
The Google Nexus 7 has the distinction of being the first device to run the Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" operating system. It measures 198.5mm x 120mm x 10.45mm in size, weighs 340g, and features a 7-inch IPS display that is protected by scratch-resistant glass. The Nexus sports a 1280 x 800 pixel display. It runs a quad-core Tegra 3 processor and 1GB of RAM, it also comes in 2 versions: 8GB and 16GB capacities.
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